Lifetime’s ‘Cruel Instruction’ is a scary thriller movie that centers upon a torturous youth residential treatment center. Directed by Stanley M. Brooks, the movie revolves around Kayla Adams, who is in her late teens. After her behavioral issues get her expelled from the school, Kayla’s mother, Karen Adams, sends her to a youth treatment center as per the wishes of her previous school teachers. Not long after Kayla arrives at the facility, she realizes that the school holds a dark reality within. Headmistress Miss Connie and her loyal staff run the school with an iron grip, stripping the children of their sanity.
The medieval measures used to discipline the children include random punishments, confinements, suppressive medication, and abuse. Kayla meets Amanda, who arrives on the same day, and together, they have to escape the nightmarish institution. Kelcey Mawema (Gabrielle from ‘Deadly Class’) takes up the central role, alongside Morgan Taylor Campbell as Amanda. You may wonder whether the movie has any basis in reality. Is there such a tyrannical school in Utah? Let us probe further.
Is Cruel Instruction Based on A True Story?
Yes, ‘Cruel Instruction’ is based on a true story. You may think that the education system in the country has become quite progressive for the time. Let us assure you that we still have a long way to go. Stanley M. Brooks directed the movie from a script penned by Adrienne Rush, who was principally inspired by the workings of such child treatment programs. It is still an underregulated industry and one where alleged cases of abuse are rampant. Since the early 1990s, the US government has established many such youth treatment facilities.
However, there is a dearth of stringent federal laws to oversee the programs, especially the private, for-profit organizations. As there is no meticulous documentation, it becomes difficult for the legal authorities to determine the ones enrolling in these programs. Greg Kurtz, Managing Director of the Forensic Audits and Special Investigation Unit of Government Accountability Office, stumbled upon a numbing reality when his team probed into the allegations of child abuse, neglect, and death at the private residential treatment facility.
In a US House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee hearing on October 10, 2007, he said, “…we identified thousands of reported cases of death and abuse at these programs. Sources of these allegations include HHS, state agencies, the Internet, and pending and closed civil and criminal lawsuits.” Astonishingly, the cases appeared in both private and public institutions.
Among the preys of these facilities were socialite actress Paris Hilton, whose parents made her undertake a disciplinary trip from New York City to the Provo Canyon School in Utah in the late 90s. In an interview with People, she recalled the haunting memory. According to Hilton, the staff would not stop at verbal abuse and casual bullying. She alleged that the authorities would apply physical coercion, even oppressive techniques like strangling to submit the children. “…they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them,” Hilton said.
Hilton continued, “They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.” Her story is seemingly the tip of the iceberg. Along with ‘Cruel Instruction,’ Lifetime produced a companion documentary, ‘Beyond the Headlines: Cruel Instruction,’ projecting the woes of survivors from such treatment centers. The documentary also comments upon how the survivors develop PTSD and anxiety in the aftermath. As saddening as it is, ‘Cruel Instruction’ holds far more truth than you would think.